Text by Roz Reymers; Photos by John Keeble
Despite the cold morning, twenty-seven expats turned out Saturday in San Joaquin for a Walk/Hike/Run to raise money for Antony Zapata, a 15-year-old from Cañar province who lost his leg last year in a motorcycle accident.
Most hiked the five kilometer route along the Yanuncay River on the rural road to Soldados, then back the two kilometers to La Olla de Barro restaurant for a country lunch. (For more about hiking the road to Soldados, read Brian Buckner’s Saturday article.)
David Naccari was our one, fearless runner!
The event was part of a campaign that has raised $2,600 towards the total $5,000 needed to finish outfitting Antony with high-mobility prosthesis components from the Range of Motion Project (ROMP). Based in both the U.S. and Latin America, ROMP designs and crafts high-performance prostheses in Quito. Founder, David Krupa, himself an amputee, is dedicated to restoring mobility to those in need in underserved countries.
“It has been a great start,” said Ken Lucero, Team Leader and organizer, along with his wife, Roz, of Antony’s campaign. “Helping Kids in Ecuador (HKIE) jump-started our efforts with a generous donation, and with the enthusiasm shown by those who donated online prior to the event, ROMP proceeded with the fitting and training needed to get Antony off crutches and onto his new knee-and-leg.”
Shahbaz Kahn and Jeff Van Pelt of Cuenca’s local hiking group were instrumental in enlisting many of our participants, with Brian and Edie Buckner spending hours helping us pick and organize the route.
“We’re still aiming for the additional $2,400 that will give him his high-mobility foot component, but hope that with our Walk/Hike/Run turnout, ROMP may proceed in the meantime.”
Antony’s active teen life was short-circuited with his accident, but his deep depression ended upon meeting the inspiring ROMP folks, who gave him back his vision for a future that will again include sports — as well as his dream of going to college (the first in his family), possibly to become a doctor.
“Everyone had a wonderful time meeting Antony, who joined us for lunch at the end of the hike,” said Ken.
Dodie Lovett, who walked for her grandson in the U.S., shared an emotional moment with Antony who is her grandson’s same age. The hikers all received shy smiles in return for their handshakes, greetings, and well wishes.
To learn more about ROMP, its mission, and the inspiring events it sponsors, go to: https://www.rompglobal.org. To make a welcome contribution to Anthony’s fund, please find us at: https://www.crowdrise.com/Cuenca-Walk-Hike-Run-llacao/fundraiser/kenlucero